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Italy

Italy

Italy officially the Italian Republic, is a country located in south-central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia – the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea – and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, whilst Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.  Rome, the capital of Italy, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became the birthplace of the Renaissance an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.  Italy plays a prominent role in European and global military, cultural and diplomatic affairs. The country's European political, social and economic influence makes it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia. The country has a high public education level, high labour force, and is a highly globalised nation.

Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and commune.  The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.  Rome's history spans over two and a half thousand years. It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD. Since the 1st century AD Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.

Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry, and is the capital of the region Veneto.  The name is derived from the ancient people of Veneti that inhabited the region as of 10th century B.C. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.  The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important centre of commerce (especially silk, grain and spice trade) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence.  The city lies on the River Arno; it is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture and, more generally, for its cultural heritage. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance; it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, religious and republican revolution. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. Florence is often known as the "Jewel of the Renaissance". Florence is arguably the last preserved Renaissance city in the world and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy. It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo Galilei, Catherine de' Medici, Luigi Cherubini, Antonio Meucci, Guccio Gucci, Franco Zeffirelli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Leonardo Bruni, Coluccio Salutati, and Emilio Pucci.

Milan
Milan is a city in Italy and the capital of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan.  The city was founded under the name of Medhlan, by the Insubres, a Celtic people. Milan was later captured by the Romans in 222 BC, and it became very successful under the Roman Empire, being the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 286 until 402 AD. Milan became one of the most prosperous Italian cities during the High Middle Ages, playing a primary role in the Lombard League. Later Milan became the capital city of the Duchy of Milan, being ruled by the Visconti, the Sforza, the Spanish and the Austrians. In 1796, Milan was conquered by Napoleon and he made it the capital of his Kingdom of Italy in 1805.  Later Milan became the capital city of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, which was part of the Austrian Empire. In 1859 the city was unified with the Kingdom of Sardinia, which later became the Kingdom of Italy. During the Romantic period, Milan was a major cultural centre in Europe, attracting several artists, composers and important literary figures. Later, during World War II, the city was badly affected by Allied bombings, and after German occupation in 1943, Milan became the main hub of the Italian resistance. Despite this, Milan saw a post-war economic growth, attracting thousands of immigrants from Southern Italy and abroad.

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